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Article number: 9781639366057
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On Sale April 9th

The King of Diamonds
By Rena Pederson
ISBN: 978-1639366057

In stock (129) (Delivery timeframe:2 to 6)

The thrilling story of a brazen, uncatchable jewel thief who roamed the homes of Dallas high society—and a window into the dark secrets lurking beneath the surface of the Swinging Sixties.

As a string of high profile jewel thefts went unsolved, "the King of Diamonds," as he was dubbed by the press, eluded police and the FBI for more than a decade and took advantage of the parties and devil-may-care attitude of the Swinging Sixties.

Like Cary Grant in "To Catch a Thief," the King was so bold that he tip-toed into the homes of millionaires while they were watching television, or hosting parties. He hid in their closets. And dared to smoke a cigarette while they were sleeping not far away. Rena Pederson, then a young cub reporter at the Dallas Morning News, heard the police reports trickle in while she managed the night desk.

With gymnastic skill, this thief climbed trees or crawled across rooftops to get into these sprawling mansions. He took jewels from heiresses, oil kings, corporate CEOs. These were not just some of the richest people in Texas; they were some of the richest people of their time. Scotland Yard and Interpol were on the look-out. But the thief was never caught and the jewels never recovered.

To follow the tracks of the thief, Rena has interviewed more than two hundred people, from veteran cops to strippers. She went to pawn shops, Las Vegas casinos, and a Mafia hangout—and discovered that beneath the glittering façade of Dallas debutantes and raucaous parties was a world of sex trafficking, illegal gambling, and political graft. When one of the leading suspects was found dead in highly unusual circumstances, the story darkened. What seemed to be taken from the pages of an Edna Ferber story now crashed head-first into Mickey Spillane.

Like the stories of Fantomas or Raffles, the odd psychological aspects of the The King of Diamonds give us different kind of crime story. Detectives were stumped: Why did the thief break into houses when his targets were inside, increasing the risk of being captured? Why did he hide in their closets? Many times, he was so close he could hear their breathing as they slept. As one socialite put it, “It was a very peculiar business.”